“The galloping Ghost of the Java Coast



Peter Makris


Biography of Peter Makris


Peter Makris told his parents, brothers, and sisters he wanted to see the world. He had a thirst for adventure. His parents wanted him to wait until he turned 18. Peter was very determined to enlist at 17 years of age. His father eventually signed for him to enlist in the U.S. Navy. His parents both cried for a long time after that event. Peter wrote often to his family about his adventures on the USS Houston and on leave. Peter's body was never found, he was lost at sea during the battle of the Java Straits serving on the USS Houston as a F1C.

Peter Makris was born in Ironwood, Michigan approximately March, 1924. His parents [William and Angeline (nee Laggis)] were immigrants from Sparta, Greece. He had two older brothers, James and George, and two sisters, Esther and Victoria.The Makris family moved to Rhinelander, WI, in the early 1920s. Peter's mother wanted to be closer to her two sisters. Peter's father had an opportunity to start his own restaurant but eventually was the head cook at a downtown cafe.


Those that remember Peter say he loved to tease, laugh, and was a kind person. The kids in the neighborhood said he would give them rides on his bike, laugh and talk. He was very helpful around the house, helping his mother with daily chores. All that knew him said he was a wonderful person to be around.


I never had the pleasure of meeting my Uncle. I began finding out more about him through the years as I worked on my family genealogy. I was lucky enough to make contact with Lin Drees and Shawn Flynn from the USS Houston website who led me to Mr. Jack Feliz. Jack wrote a book of his life adventures and his role on the USS Houston. He told me in a letter that he did remember my Uncle Peter and cited him on page 38 of his book "The Saga of Sailor Jack". You will love reading this book. Here is where you can find out more information on the book.

Another interesting fact about Peter Makris: the American Legion Post in Rhinelander, Oneida County, WI, is named Dalhberg-Makris.


I wrote this biography because I wanted to know more about my uncle, share it with my family, and others.


This is a letter that Peter Makris sent to his family. The original letter is on USS Houston stationary but the pencil lead has faded. I was able to retrieve the information before the pencil message had faded.


Dearest Folks, & family,


Well, how is everything in good old Rhinelander anyways, its been so long since I heard from that part of the state it is isn't even getting funny anymore. It sure is nice here and I really am enjoying myself. Last week end I went on a sight seeing trip to the Pagsanjan Falls sponsored by the Army, Navy YMCA It cost six and one-half pesos ($3.25 in our money) and saw some of the most prettiest sites I have ever seen. We went by bus over mountainous country to a lodge about 30 miles from Manilla. We had to change into our swimming trunks for we had to go up the river in dugout canoes and plenty of rapids. It sure was fun having our boat tip over by rapids but the river is not more than five feet deep and clear as crystals. We finally got to the falls which is in a gorge surrounded by jungle where the water comes out of the mountain like pouring coffee out of a pot. We swam under the falls and sure had loads of fun. It was really deep there and you could climb on these high rocks by the mountain and dive in. Leaving there we had to come down the river and over them swift rapids. The rapids took our boat down like we were a match stick, so just imagine, seven miles down the river and were sure turned over plenty. When reaching the lodge there was a nice supper waiting for us and after sitting around resting our weary bones back to Manilla, another well spent day gone. I took quite a few pictures there so am sending them to you so you can get an idea of the surroundings.


To get off that topic, I sure hope your not freezing back for I am just like a black from this hot sun which you notice by one particular photograph. I hope James, and Esther passed mid-semester for when James graduates I really am going to buy a swell gift. We are heading for China April 20 to spend the summer month's for the heat here is to extreme during that time. For the last few month's we have going to sea during the week-day and have our drills such as gunnery, dire drills, abandon-ship and etc. Our ship is perfect with the guns and could hit a fly at a 1,000 ft.



NOTE: The letter makes reference to pictures but I don't remember seeing any of the pictures.


Written and compiled by Angeline Makris Lang, niece of Peter Makris. January 22, 2007



Letter from Jack Feliz


Jack and Marie Feliz

216 I Kalia Road. Apt. 1410

Honolulu, HI 96815-1976

July 6, 2006



Dear Angie and Dale.


It would be difficult for you to realize what a thrill I received from your inquiry about your Uncle Peter Makris.


1 had tried to locate a member of his family shortly after the War and up until a couple of years ago. I had a HOUSTON shipmate, by the name of Lawrence Worgowsky, from, Necedah, Wi, He made several attempts to locate Peter’s family, without results.


l have always wanted to tell a member of his family what an outstanding young man he was. In my book, "The Saga of Sailor Jack" I have mentioned him briefly on page 38, line 17, about those two men who approached me looking for life jackets. Both of those men were from Rinelender, WI, One of them was Peter Makris and the other. I have forgotten his name. I can still clearly see his smiling face_ He was. I believe ol'Nordic descent, very blond and with a fair complexion, As I am 95 years young, I tend to forget a few things. Perhaps you may find out his name from city records or a Military organization like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Now getting back to my story about Peter, I was a Machinist Mate First Class and Peter was an FlU, as noted in your abbreviation for Fireman First Class. I was in charge of repairs to the Main and Auxiliary Machinery in the foreword engine room_ Peter and his friend from Rinelander were assigned to my repair detail, By this time, I had ten years of

lava] Engineering experience and had served on five different ships, I had a gift of making a piece of run down machinery run like new. Peter and his friend were very bright and learned very quickly. They were soon achieving more than any other firemen in our engine room_ Often we worked extra long hours after all the other men had left the engine room after normal work hours.


Frequently, I would tell them they could knock off and I would finish the job. Every time I offered there to quit. they would say they didn't want to leave. they wanted to stay and see that I had done the repairs correctly, and that I might fall in a hole, after all I was pretty damn oldl They also had a wonderful sense of humor. They often pulled some good jokes on me. I still remember a few of them. they would hide my tools and tell me that they had heard that it was some people from the after engine room that stole my tools. When I started up the ladder to recover my tools, they'd holler, "April Fool!"


I named them the "Katzen Jammer Kids" after those devilish kids in an old time comic strip_ They were always "Bugging me" with new and clever jokes. Another time, they said that I had received a phone call from the Captain's yeoman, and that the Captain

wanted to see me in regard to my shirking my duty; as I started up the ladder, they hollered. "April Fool!"


I guess to 18 year olds a man of 31 years of age had one foot in the grave. They omen called me the Ancient Mariner with much gusto!


I would like to explain how we became separated during the battle; I was assigned to the forward repair party. We were responsible for fighting fires and repairs to electrical and piping systems and hull repairs. Peter was assigned as a throttleman on the starboard main engines. A throttle man controls the Forward and Reverse Engines, usually assigned to a First or Second Class Machinist Mate. Peter was so capable of accomplishing any assigned task, that I broke him in as a throttle man before the war started.


When the word comes over the speaker. "Man Your Battle Stations!" Peter's Battle Station was the Starboard Throttle man in the Forward Engine Room, and mine was the forward repair party. One deck above the engine room. Up to this point, Peter and l were very fortunate, because the After Engine Room took a torpedo hit and killed all hands on watch, and the After repair party was hit by an aircraft bomb that killed all hands.


In closing I hope this little bit of information will assist you in your family genealogy.

If there is any information that I can help you with, please feel free to call me. When you finish reading my book, please send me a post card telling me what were your favorite stories,


In conclusion, in my thirty years of Naval Engineering experience, I never found any person that carne close to the wonderful character and ability of your outstanding Uncle Peter Makris!